Fires and Innovation


To be reminded of the power of insurance these days, I just have to step out the front door. I live about 80 miles south of the Camp Fire in northern California, and, even at this distance, the effect is obvious. The color of the air—not something I usually notice—sometimes reminds me of Mordor in the "Lord of the Rings" movies.

These fires, like every natural disaster, also serve as a reminder of how far we need to go as an industry, and not just to show people the value of insurance and narrow the "protection gap." We need to innovate to provide better, much cheaper policies that will be bought, not sold. We also need to find new business models, including ones based on helping people head off claims—if not from natural disasters, then at least from more controllable issues.

To that end, I encourage you to read a survey on innovation readiness that we did with The Institutes, which you can download for free here. The survey, led on our end by Guy Fraker and Paul Winston, shows that companies are making measurable progress but are still struggling, then provides a five-point checklist to overcome the common problems.

The Institutes will shortly unveil an insurance innovation curriculum, developed with Guy Fraker, that can help you build a culture of innovation and attack point #5 on that checklist: Encouraging employee participation. When the curriculum is ready for release, we will provide more details.

In the meantime, you might want to refer back to two detailed pieces from Guy that I've previously highlighted, on what's wrong and what's right with current innovation efforts. You can find them here and here.

As always, let me know if you have questions or if we can help.

In any case, let's all continue to hope and pray that the fires throughout California are contained as quickly as possible, with no more loss of life, and that all those affected can start to pull their lives together again as quickly as possible, assisted by the very best efforts of the insurance industry.

Have a safe week.

Paul Carroll

Paul Carroll

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Paul Carroll

Paul Carroll is the editor-in-chief of Insurance Thought Leadership.

He is also co-author of A Brief History of a Perfect Future: Inventing the Future We Can Proudly Leave Our Kids by 2050 and Billion Dollar Lessons: What You Can Learn From the Most Inexcusable Business Failures of the Last 25 Years and the author of a best-seller on IBM, published in 1993.

Carroll spent 17 years at the Wall Street Journal as an editor and reporter; he was nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize. He later was a finalist for a National Magazine Award.